Mandeville, LA – Mount Carmel is a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean Sea on which the prophet Elias successfully challenged the 450 priests of Baal and won the people to the true God. In the Old Testament, Elias went to Mount Carmel to pray for an end to a drought that threatened the survival of the Israelites. On his seventh prayer, Elias saw a cloud rise from the Mediterranean which brought the much needed rain.
And he said to his servant: Go up, and look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said: There is nothing. And again he said to him: Return seven times. And at the seventh time, behold, a little cloud arose out of the sea like a man’s foot. And he said: Go up and say to Achab: Prepare thy chariot and go down, lest the rain prevent thee. And while he turned himself this way and that way, behold the heavens grew dark, with clouds, and wind, and there fell a great rain.
From that cloud, Elias discerned 4 secrets concerning the birth Our Lady.
1. The Immaculate Conception – because the Virgin would arise as a cloud out of the salty water of a guilty humanity, having the same nature of that water but without its bitterness.
2. The Virginity of Mary similar to that of Elias – because, if she “arose out of Mount Carmel” and “like a man’s foot,” this means she would follow the path of Elias, who ascended Carmel through voluntary virginity.
3. The Time of the Virgin’s Birth – because as Elias’s servant saw the cloud on his seventh try so would the world witness the advent of the Virgin in the seventh age of the world.
4. The Virginal Maternity – because, in that little cloud, God would come down like sweet rain, “without noise of human collaboration,” that is, without violating her purity. [Editor’s note: thanks to TFP’s Jose Maria Alcasid for this summary. – M.C.]
“There they erected a church dedicated to Our Lady on the same spot where Elias saw the little cloud which symbolized both fertility and the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. They adopted the name of Friars of the Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel.” [Editor’s note: Again, thanks to Jose Maria AAlcasid. – M.C.]
On July 16, 1251 Our Lady gave St. Simon Stock a scapular for the Carmelites with the following promise, saying:
“Hoc erit tibi et cunctis Carmelitis privilegium, in hoc habitu moriens salvabitur”
“Receive, My beloved son, this habit of thy order: this shall be to thee and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire …. It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger, and a pledge of peace.”
As if in a gesture of approval Our Lady chose to make her last apparition at Lourdes on July 16th 1858, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Though it is not well known today, Elias has always been considered as the founder of the Carmelite order and in 1725, Pope Benedict XIII allowed a statue of the prophet to be erected in St Peter’s Square as the founder of the Carmelites.